The Charity Commission has issued an alert to charities as regulatory advice under Section 15(2) of the Charities Act 2011.
The Commission is the independent regulator for charities in England and Wales, and has recently pursued measures to reinforce legal and regulatory standards across the sector.
In particular, the Commission is reminding charity trustees to ensure that their fundraising activities are lawful, encouraging increased vigilance against abuse or misuse of charitable funds by individuals hiding behind benign charity labels.
Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Charity Commission, said: “Trustees are ultimately responsible for ensuring that authorised fundraising activities undertaken in the name of their charity comply with the legal and regulatory framework.”
Earlier this month, the Charity Commission gave evidence for the draft of the Protection of Charities Bill – a bill intended to secure more robust regulatory standards and give renewed confidence to donators. The draft includes legal powers such as the ability to ban people with previous convictions for certain offences from being a trustee.
It is part of a wider push to help root out acts of misconduct and ensure that perpetrators stay removed from charities.
“The public needs to have confidence that the money it donates goes to the intended charity and is legitimately used to help those people in need. It is a serious regulatory issue when any money donated to charities does not go to the intended charity or cause for legitimate work,” Russell said.
In its alert, the Commission pointed to a number of safeguards charities can adopt when trustees are unable to detect and stop abuse. These include ensuring people who fundraise have a license, an appropriate ID and making it clear whether or not a charity fundraises on the street.
“We do not want to deter the public from donating to charities and the vital work that they do, however, trustees need to be alert to the risks of abuse and take appropriate and prudent action.”